When we first met Ying*, she was still married. Her husband was a drunk,” began MTW missionary Trey Adams. “She was part of a local slum that we in New City Fellowship Church in Bangkok, Thailand, ministered to.”
Ying’s home life was a story of brokenness all too common in the slums: Her husband was adulterous, physically abusive to Ying and their two daughters, and an obsessive gambler, driving the family deeper and deeper into debt. One day, mired in his self-made pit of debt and booze and shattered relationships, Ying’s husband hung himself. The youngest daughter found his body swinging from the ceiling in their house.
Struck with a tragic loss and saddled with her dead husband’s gambling debt, Ying needed a community that would gather around her and help her through her time of struggle. Instead, her friends and neighbors in the slum began to abandon her.
Cast out for bad karma
“Thai culture is very community oriented,” Trey explained. “Imagine it like this vast network of circles. You have a circle in society that you are a part of, and it usually consists of family, very close friends, and your immediate community. … But, in a karma-driven Buddhist culture, when you’ve had that much bad karma—that much bad luck, you might say—people in your circle start to push you out because obviously you deserve what has happened.”
As Ying’s friends and neighbors fell away, New City Fellowship, an MTW church plant, stepped in to face bad karma with grace and love, the true marks of a Christian community in action.
“They weren’t believers at the time, but they were connected to us,” said Trey. “So we found ways to get Ying some work. We found ways to take care of her daughters. As a church we stood up for her kids in their schools, and we were there at the funeral. We were just part of their family.”
Taken in by grace
The church quickly became Ying’s new circle. “The cool thing is that it shows the church really is this circle that says, ‘Hey, are you an outcast? Are you weary? Are you heavy laden? Come. Come to this circle.’”
Ying embraced her new friends, and then Christ Himself. Now Ying has a vision to be salt and light in her community.
“It’s one of those stories,” Trey added, “where you see the Spirit moving, working through years and years, through different missionaries, through different Thai believers, through really awful circumstances—really bad karma if you will—and using that to draw someone into a new circle that says: ‘If you’re a sinner you can come here because we have One who has dealt with that sin.’”
*Name has been changed for security reasons.